The holiday season is here! This season is all about gathering with family and friends, sparkling lights and décor, and…pine trees? Yes, this is the time of year where the spotlight is on the pine tree – whether lit up and decorated in our homes, or outside as part of our landscape with its boughs covered in winter snows. So what makes these trees especially suited for the winter season?
Pine trees don’t just tend to survive in extreme winter conditions – they thrive. They can be found in most high-altitude locations, sub-zero climates and arid locations, and locations that are prone to natural disasters like wildfires. There are many adaptations that allow for this versatility that other deciduous trees do not have:
- Pine trees have needles instead of leaves. Instead of shedding these every year like deciduous (leafy) trees do, they can retain these needles for up to 3-4 years before dropping them. This extends their photosynthesis period, and the needles have to be more durable.
- Due to the extended photosynthesis period, pine tree needles have adapted over time to have a more tightly-wound inner structure, along with a waxy coating. The extended photosynthesis period increases water demand and water loss, but the adaptation of these needles helps with water retention.
- The waxy coating prevents water loss as well as damage from harsh winds or dry conditions.
- The darker color of the needles helps the tree absorb sunlight, aiding in the photosynthesis process.
- Pine tree needles contain a chemical that prevents most animals from consuming them.
- The bark of the pine tree has also adapted over time to become much thicker, helping them survive the freezing cold.
- Pine tree branches are extremely flexible, which allows them to handle a heavy snowfall without the branches snapping off.
- Pine tree seeds are protected in cones, allowing them to survive harsher temperatures.
- Pine trees have some special adaptations that make them resistant to wildfires. Lower branches begin to droop as the tree matures. Fires end up burning all that underbrush, and those lower branches don’t compete with the newer growth at the top. In some pine species, the cones open to spread seeds only when there is intense heat like that of a forest fire. The ash from the burnt underbrush then provides valuable nutrients to the soil, allowing the seeds a better chance to grow.
Fortunately, our climate in this area also allows for the growth of varieties of these beautiful pines in our own backyards and landscape. If you have questions about helping your pine trees thrive in your own space, have concerns about a possible infestation of your trees, or need to have your pines pruned, contact Manor Tree Service! Our professional arborists are happy to come to assess your trees as well as your needs to ensure that these magnificent trees stay healthy and that your home is safe from harm’s way during this holiday season. Give us a call today!